Don’t forget your passport!! Or, the Home Warrior saves the day (again).

A few weeks ago I posted about a friend who forgot her laptop or phone several trips in a row. I have good advice for this issue—don’t forget stuff! But it pains me to say that I do not have a perfect track record myself. I mentioned it in the post a few weeks ago, and have since had several requests for the full story. So here it is.

A couple of years ago, I was headed to El Salvador for a few days of meetings. On the way, I stopped for a night in South Texas to celebrate my grandmother’s 85th birthday. While planning and preparing for this three night trip, I realized that clothes would be easy—the weather was about the same in both locations. So I made a rookie mistake, and didn’t make a packing list.

Travel that day did not go smoothly. It was raining all over Texas, so my plane was delayed and my parents didn’t make our connecting flight in DFW. As a result, I was a little frazzled when I finally reached McAllen. Once I found my grandmother and cousin, I started to feel better. Yes, I was late, and yes we were going to have to drive back to McAllen to get my parents when they arrived, but in South Texas the sun was shining, the weather was gorgeous, and we were celebrating.

During the thirty minute drive from McAllen to my grandmother’s farm, my cousin (the former flight attendant) was quizzing me about my El Salvador trip. She wanted to know where I was going, where I was staying, how safe it was, etc. Then she started going over her packing list, making sure I had everything I need. Clothes for work? Check. Cash? Check. Computer? Check. Passport? Ch…. Wait. Oh CRAP.

A frantic call to my husband got him to drive home from work, where he found my passport on top of the filing cabinet—exactly where I had left it after my last trip to El Salvador. Then came the tricky part. Obviously, we needed to FedEx the passport overnight. But where to? They don’t deliver to my grandmother’s farm. My flight out was at 2pm the next day, so I had to have it by then. My grandmother came up with the brilliant idea of having it sent to my uncle’s office in town. At least we knew someone would be there!

The Home Warrior sent my passport overnight, and it was supposed to arrive by 10:30. At 10:15 the next morning I was waiting in my uncle’s office, pacing back and forth. It didn’t arrive until close to 11, but that was time enough. Phew! Bullet dodged.

That is when I started saying to myself, “Okay, as long as I have my __________ and my __________, the trip will be fine,” every time I left my house for the airport. So again, if you have forgotten stuff in the past, put a post it on your door that will remind you to check for your Very Important Items. Because next time it may not be as easy as having someone mail your passport to you!

Readers, what is the worst thing you have ever forgotten? Did it turn out okay?

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  1. Fortunately, the only non-replaceable thing I ever forgot was my glasses. And fortunately, even though I didn’t have a back up pair, my contacts didn’t have any random tears. I’ve been very lucky.

  2. Would you believe my plane tickets? That was in the days when e-tickets were just coming out.

    I now use the “Packing” app. You can create lists and copy/reuse them. Mine now has things like setting the auto responder at work, taking out the garbage, etc.

    Now days I always use this – just as a sanity check. I can’t tell you how many times the list has saved me. Having it easily accessible on my phone make it easy.0

  3. In an attempt to bring the bare minimum contents of my wallet on a trip to Dublin, I accidentally brought a bank credit card instead of my bank ATM card. I had never set up a PIN on any of my credit cards. I needed Euros to take taxis – and the sooner the better, from the airport to the hotel after a two-flight 16-hour overnight journey. I keep spare Euros after each trip now, so I always start a trip with some, and I always double-check that I have my credit card AND ATM card now.

  4. I have a specific place in my luggage for each item (belt, shoes, socks, etc) and in my backpack (cell phone, charger, passport…). I can tell at a glance if I have everything. I just compare what I see to my mental picture of what should be there.

    I have many times just looked and saw that I forgot a belt or spare glasses or whatever.

    Perhaps I just travel too often….

  5. My worst experience was waiting 2.5 days for my luggage to show up in Norway. I went out and bought some clothes, but refused to wear my glasses and ended up with extremely bloodshot eyes. Since then, I’ve always carried an extra pair of disposable contacts in my carry-on.

    And, like you, for years I’ve said “All I *really* need is my credit card and my passport.” Everything else can be replaced.

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